Black CutwormIPM scouting reports can save growers money and reduce pesticide use.
A western Kentucky family substituted scouting for "insurance" applications of a highly toxic soil insecticide, saving over $13,000 per year and improving worker safety and the environmental health on their farm. Eleven growers saved a total of $21,350 in pesticide cost when they found that European corn borer population levels were not high enough to warrant control. Five soybean growers saved $12 per acre ($40,800 total) by not having to spray for green cloverworm and soybean podworm.

Pest Scouting Saves Producer Time, Money and Environmental Concern

A single farm family in western Kentucky plants approximately 1700 acres of land to corn production. It has been their habit to apply an "at plant" soil applied insecticide for "insurance" control of cutworm. In 1990 all their corn land was scouted by trained scouts and, therefore, no insecticide was applied. No pest infestation of cutworms was detected. Therefore, a considerable cost of pesticide was eliminated. At a treatment cost of approximately $12/acre, less the cost of scouting, $4/ac for 1700 acres, yields a savings of $13,600.00 for this farm family IF the scout did nothing else.

In addition to the economic payback to this farm family, this lack of application also impacts the following areas:

Farm Worker Safety: The insecticide this farmer had chosen for use prior to scouting was a restricted use insecticide generally concluded to be at high risk for acute human toxicity. No one had to handle some 11,300 pounds of this insecticide formulation.

Water Quality: The insecticide this farmer had chosen for use is generally considered high risk for ground water quality. Some 1700 pounds of toxic material was not needlessly applied to the soil, much of which was in river bottom land.

Non-target Species: Some 1700 pounds of toxic material did not needlessly enter the environment of non-target insects and small animal species.

Food Safety: Some 1700 pounds of toxic material was not applied to the crop. In this case, the preferred material was a systemic insecticide which would have been taken up by the plant.


Douglas W. Johnson, IPM Coordinator
Extension Entomologist
Research and Education Center
P.O. Box 469
Princeton, KY 42445

Kentucky IPM
University of Kentucky Integrated Pest Management Program

Original document: 13 April 1998
Last updated: 24 April 2001

* Return to University of Kentucky IPM homepage